Home  →  COCO- People. Retaining Your Most Valuable Asset



The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. For businesses across all sectors, there’s no hotter topic. And from 1 July, through to 31 October, when the scheme is set to close, there are some big changes coming in that you need to know about. Mark Baxter and Tara Walker from our COVID-19 Taskforce to talk through them. Find out what the next few months has in store – and the actions you’ll need to take – here.

We were wow’d by the Chancellor’s announcement on Friday 20 March when he committed to pay most of the wages of people that would otherwise have been laid off due to coronavirus. He called it “unprecedented measures for unprecedented times” and we certainly can’t remember any bigger pledge than this ever being provided by this government or previous ones. This was the birth of the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme (CJRS).


On 12 May the Chancellor extended CJRS until the end of October 2020.  This was followed by a further announcement on 29 May (and the publication of further guidance on 12 June) outlining three key changes to the scheme from 1 July 2020 being:

  • CJRS is now closed to new entrants from 30 June 2020 who have not yet been furloughed.  This is because they need to have been furloughed for at least three weeks by 30 June 2020 and the last date for doing this was 10 June.
  • From 1 July, employers can bring back employees who have previously been furloughed for any amount of time and still be able to claim under the scheme for the normal hours that are not worked by the employee (see below for further details).
  • The only exception to this is for employees currently on statutory parental leave, who are expected to return to work after 10 June. These employees can be placed on furlough, but only if they work for an employer who has previously furloughed employees.

TOP TIP: Now that more detailed guidance has been issued on how claims will be calculated after 30 June 2020, consider your plans for all of your employees who have previously been furloughed. Remember, you have the ability to bring the employee back part time from 1 July (see below for further details).

  • The minimum claim period will be one week and claims will not be able to overlap months.
  • The maximum number of employees an employer can claim for in any period cannot exceed the maximum number they have claimed for under any previous claim.

TOP TIPS: You will have until 31 July 2020 in order to make your claims for the period to 30 June 2020 and therefore make sure you are in a position to make your claim by this deadline.

From 1 July claims will not be able to overlap months and therefore you need to give thought to how this will impact on your claim periods if they do not currently cover a complete month.

Further details were announced on 12 June when HMRC updated their guidance.

HMRC have also started introducing a method of correcting errors in previous CJRS claims – something that has been eagerly anticipated. If you have overclaimed in a previous claim, you will now have the option to include an amendment in the next claim you make. The system will ask if you would like to decrease the current period’s claim, to take account of a previous error.

If you have made an error in a CJRS claim and do not plan to submit further claims, you will need to contact HMRC to get your payment reference number – either on their webchat service or by calling 0800 024 1222. You’ll then be able to make a payment direct to their bank, to correct the overclaim. More details available here.


CJRS is available to all UK employers, including umbrella companies, large or small. This is provided they created and started a PAYE payroll scheme on or before 19 March 2020, have enrolled for PAYE online and have a UK bank account.

If your business is involved in research, including if you are in receipt of public funding, HMRC’s guidance here may be of interest to you.


The level of support that is available under the scheme depends on the period for which you are claiming.

All payments under the scheme are by way of a grant which means they do not need to be paid back.


20 April 2020 Scheme went live
10 June 2020 Latest date by which employees must be furloughed for the first time to qualify under the scheme post 30 June 2020.
1 July 2020 New rules introduced including flexible furloughing (see below)
31 July 2020 Deadline for making claims for periods up to 30 June 2020.
1 August 2020 Can no longer claim for National Insurance or pension contributions under the scheme.
1 September 2020 Maximum wages grant reduces to 70% (subject to a cap of £2,187.50*).
1 October 2020 Maximum wages grant reduces to 60% (subject to a cap of £1,875*).
31 October 2020 Scheme closes.

* To be reduced proportional to the hours worked under flexible furloughing.


What you can claim will depend on what period you are claiming for.  A useful starting point is HMRC’s step-by-step guide for found here,  and the online calculator found here.

HMRC updated their guidance on 12 June 2020 to account for periods post 30 June 2020, when the flexible furloughing arrangements are introduced.

Periods up to and including 30 June 2020

The scheme will cover 80% of monthly wages for employees who are furloughed due to coronavirus, up to a ceiling of £2,500 (gross) per employee.

Employer’s national insurance costs (up to a maximum of 13.8% of the monthly wage that is claimable under the scheme) and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions payable are also covered, in addition to the £2,500 limit.

HMRC guidance was updated on 22 May to state that the National Insurance claim for each furloughed employee could not exceed 13.8% of the wages claimable for them under the scheme; this point was not previously mentioned in the guidance.

For employees who are paid a regular amount, the monthly wage figure for which the 80% applies is their actual gross salary, as in their last pay period prior to 19 March 2020. Previous guidance had a date of 28 February 2020 and if you’ve already calculated your claim based on the employee’s salary as at 28 February and the calculation differs you can choose which one you use.

For employees who are paid variable amounts, there are a couple of calculations you will need to compare. HMRC’s details about this can be read here.  There are also extra complications involved in the calculations where employees are part of a salary sacrifice scheme.

If you are eligible to claim the Employment Allowance this will result in you paying less employer’s National Insurance contributions.

When calculating the amount of National Insurance contributions that can be claimed back under the Job Retention Scheme you will need to deduct any Employment Allowance you have used in that period.

If this results in you having no employer National Insurance contributions in the pay period, you should not make a claim for a rebate via the Job Retention Scheme.

If the amount of Employment Allowance you claim does not fully cover your employer National Insurance contributions for the pay period, you can claim the lower of the following via the Job Retention Scheme:

  • the grant towards employer National Insurance costs as calculated under the scheme rules, and
  • the employer National Insurance costs that you have paid, or expect to pay, across your entire payroll

Periods from 1 July to 31 July 2020

If you furlough an employee for the whole of July, then the claim is calculated in same way as claim for a period prior to 30 June 2020 (see above).

However, if you have brought back an employee to work some of their normal hours, and have furloughed them for the rest, then you will need to calculate your claim as follows.

Step 1 – work out 80% of your employee’s usual wages:

This varies depending on whether they are on a fixed salary, was not paid for a full pay period up to 19 March 2020 or their pay varies.  This is calculated using the same method as used for claim periods prior to 1 July.

Step 2 – work out the employee’s minimum furlough pay:

  1. Start with the lower of 80% of their usual wages (see Step 1) and the maximum wage amount.
  2. Multiply by the employee’s furloughed hours.
  3. Divide by the employee’s usual hours.

For July this is the amount that can be claimed under the CJRS.

HMRC’s guidance includes a worked example HERE.

You will need to pay your employee at their full rate for any hours they actually work during the claim period, or for any furloughed hours during which they take paid leave.  As before, you can also decide to top up the employee’s furlough pay above the amount claimable under the CJRS.

Calculating your employer’s National Insurance claim under the CJRS.

The calculation of the employer’s National Insurance Contributions (NICs) that can be claimed under the CJRS is different to those for periods prior to 1 July 2020.

Step 1 – adjust the amount of the relevant secondary threshold:

  1. Start with the relevant secondary threshold (£169 pw, £732 pm or £8,788 pa)
  2. Divide by the number of days in the pay period.
  3. Multiply by the number of days in the furlough or flexible furlough claim.
  4. If the employee is flexibly furloughed, then divide by the number of usual hours in the claim period and multiply by the furloughed hours during this period.

Step 2 – calculate the NICs that can be claimed under the CJRS:

  1. Take the amount you have calculated that you can claim for the employee’s wages.
  2. Deduct the relevant adjusted secondary NICs threshold (see Step 1).
  3. Multiply by 13.8%.

As before, if you claim Employment Allowance for the period, this may limit the overall NICs you can claim under the CJRS (see above for further details).

HMRC’s guidance includes a worked example HERE.

Calculating your claim under the CJRS for employer’s pension contributions.

In order to accommodate the flexible furloughing arrangements, the way in which the claim for employer pension contributions is different for the period 1 July to 31 July 2020 than it was for prior periods.

Step 1 – calculate the adjusted Lower Level of Qualifying Earnings (LLQE):

  1. Take the relevant LLQE that corresponds to the pay period (£120 pw, £520 pm or £6,240 pa).
  2. Divide by the number of days in the pay period.
  3. Multiply by the number of days in the furlough or flexible furlough period.
  4. If the employee is flexibly furloughed, then divide by the number of usual hours in the claim period and multiply by the furloughed hours during this period.

Step 2 – calculate the pension contributions that can be claimed under the CJRS:

  1. Take the amount you have calculated that you can claim for the employee’s wages.
  2. Deduct the relevant adjusted LLQE (see Step 1).
  3. Multiply by 3%.

You must not claim more towards pension contributions for an employee than you have paid into their pension for the claim period.

Again, HMRC’s guidance contains some worked examples HERE.

Periods from 1 August to 31 August 2020

The claim for employee’s wages under the CJRS is calculated in the same way as for the period 1 July 2020 to 31 August 2020 (see above).

However, there is no claim possible for employers’ NICs or pension contributions for this period.

Periods from 1 September to 30 September 2020

The scheme will cover 70% of monthly wages for employees who are furloughed due to coronavirus, up to a ceiling of £2,187.50 (gross) per employee.

This is calculated as follows:

  1. Start with the minimum furlough pay (calculated in the same was as for July and August).
  2. Divide by 80.
  3. Multiply by 70.

In order to be able to claim, the employee must still continue to receive 80% of their monthly wages meaning the employer will have to pay a minimum of 10% (along with any wages at the full rate for non-furloughed periods).

Again, there will be no ability to make a claim for National Insurance and pension contributions.

Periods from 1 October to 31 October 2020

The scheme will cover 60% of monthly wages for employees who are furloughed due to coronavirus, up to a ceiling of £1,875 (gross) per employee.

This is calculated as follows:

  1. Start with the minimum furlough pay (calculated in the same was as for July and August).
  2. Divide by 80.
  3. Multiply by 60.

Again, in order to be able to claim, the employee must still continue to receive 80% of their monthly wages meaning the employer will have to pay a minimum of 20% (along with any wages at the full rate for non-furloughed periods).

There will be no ability to make a claim for National Insurance and pension contributions.

Summary of possible claims

Up to 31 July 2020 August 2020 September 2020 October 2020
Government contribution to wages* 80% up to £2,500. 80% up to £2,500. 70% up to £2,187.50. 60% up to £1,875.
Government contribution to NI and pension contributions Yes No No No
Minimum employer contribution to wages 0% 0% 10% 20%

*Cap will be proportionately reduced where employee has returned to work part-time under the flexible furloughing arrangements.


HMRC have requested agents to support businesses with claims and our COVID –19 taskforce continues to prepare, review and submit furlough claims. The feedback is that employers’ NI is often being miscalculated, particularly where employers are topping up pay. Salary sacrifice is another area causing challenges.

Claims for periods from 1 July 2020 are set to be even more complex, particularly if you bring employees back part time under the flexible furloughing arrangements.

For peace of mind, we can review your claim or the claim for a sample of your employees. Click here for further information


Furloughed employees are those you would like to keep on your payroll, but you are unable to provide them with sufficient work, either due to forced closure of your business or a downturn in trading, due to coronavirus.

Employees who are shielding in line with public health guidance, or need to stay home with someone who is shielding, can also be furloughed, as can employees unable to work because they have caring responsibilities resulting from COVID-19 (such as needing to look after children).

They just need to have been on your payroll as of 19 March 2020 and a payment made to them must have been notified to HMRC via an RTI submission before that date.

Some businesses will have been through restructures or reorganisations since that date, meaning employees may have moved on to a different payroll. HMRC’s guidance says that a new employer is eligible to claim under the scheme for employees of a previous business in these circumstances. This is provided the business was transferred after 19 March 2020 and either the TUPE or PAYE business succession rules apply to the change in ownership.

Subject to meeting the rules, agency workers can also be included in the scheme.

Furloughed employees will not be allowed to undertake any work for you during the period you wish to claim for. This includes anything that makes you money or provides you with a service.

They can undertake training, if their job requires it. In this case you need to make sure that they are being paid the national minimum wage for the hours that they spend training.

A furloughed employee who is a union or non-union representative may continue to undertake duties in order to represent employees, either on individual or collective matters provided that this does not consist of providing services or generating revenue for the organisation (or one associated with it).

These rules are set to change and from July there is likely to be the scope to furlough an employee for part of their normal working hours, we await the details of this.

Furlough employees can, with the agreement of their employer, carry out voluntary work for the Civil Service under the Industry Partnering Voluntary Scheme. Further details can be found here.

Employees can be furloughed in and out of the scheme although there is a three week minimum period.

If you have made employees redundant, or they stopped working for you on or after 28 February 2020 but before 19 March 2020 due to coronavirus, you are able to re-employ and furlough them if you choose. This applies as long as the employee was on your payroll as of 28 February and had been notified to HMRC on an RTI submission on or before 28 February 2020.

Individuals working for a public sector client, through a personal service company, who are no longer able to work due to the COVID-19 pandemic can also be included in the scheme. More details about this can be found here.

From 1 July, it will be possible to bring back to work employees that have previously been furloughed whilst still being able to make a claim under the scheme, under the flexible furloughing arrangements (see above).


HMRC have confirmed that employees can take holiday whilst on furlough. Working Time Regulations require holiday pay to be paid at the employee’s normal rate of pay or, where the rate of pay varies, calculated on the basis of the average pay received by the employee in the previous 52 working weeks.

Therefore, if a furloughed employee takes holiday, the employer will be obliged to pay additional amounts over the grant. The employer will have the flexibility to restrict when leave can be taken if there is a business need, both during the furlough period and the subsequent recovery period.

HMRC have confirmed if an employee usually works bank holidays then the employer can agree that this is included in the grant payment. If the employee usually takes the bank holidays as leave, then the employer either needs to top up their usual holiday pay or give the employee a day of holiday in lieu. HMRC are keeping the policy on holiday pay during furlough under review.


HMRC have confirmed that office holders can be included in the scheme. The same rules surrounding the amount that can be claimed, as covered above, will apply. Therefore, office holders must have been receiving a salary through the company’s PAYE scheme at 19 March 2020 in order to be eligible. Dividends cannot be included in the amount claimed.

Company secretaries and non-executive directors can be furloughed by agreement between the office holder and the company.  However, where company directors are being furloughed, the decision should be formally adopted. We would recommend board minutes are drawn up to document this, as well as confirmation in writing to the director(s) affected.

Furloughed directors should ensure they are not doing work that would generate commercial revenue or provides services to or on behalf of their company. Whilst HMRC have accepted that furloughed directors can still carry out their legal duties of filing accounts or providing information relating to the administration of the company, the scope of what they can do is very limited. The Institute of Directors is calling for further clarification.

WHAT are the flexible furloughing arrangements?

As highlighted above, from 1 July it will be possible to bring back to work employees that have previously been furloughed under the flexible furloughing arrangements, whilst still being able to make a claim under the scheme.

In order to remain eligible for the grant, employers must agree with their employee their new flexible working arrangements and confirm this agreement in writing.

Employers will be able claim the grant for the hours the employees are not working calculated by reference to the employees normal working hours in a claim period.

For worked hours, employees will be paid by their employer under the terms of their employment contract and under the operation of PAYE and NIC.

Further details on the scheme and how to calculate a grant claim are set to be published on 12 June 2020.

HOW DO I CLAIM for periods up to 30 June 2020?

The scheme is live, and you can read HMRC’s step-by-step guide here.

Claims need to be made by the business or an agent that is authorised to act on your behalf for PAYE matters. File only agents (e.g Payroll Bureaus) will not be able to access the system for data protection reasons.

The claim can be backdated to start from 1 March 2020.  Businesses will need the following information to claim:

  • Your Government Gateway (GG) ID and password
  • Your employer PAYE reference number. You need to be registered for PAYE online

The following information for each furloughed employee you will be claiming for:

  • National Insurance Number
  • Claim period – this can be whatever you choose it to be, the important thing being you cannot claim for the same period twice. So, if you run your payroll weekly it makes sense to set the claim period as a week; if you run your payroll monthly then the claim period could be a month. See our note below for those of you who run both weekly and monthly payrolls.In addition, your final claim in the period must end on 30 June 2020 because it will not be possible to make claims that straddle a month post this date.
  • Claim amount being the Salary, National Insurance and pension contribution information that allows businesses to calculate the claim amount. (per the minimum length of furloughing of 3 consecutive weeks)
  • PAYE/ Payroll works number for the employee (optional).
  • If you are claiming for less than 100 employees, you will need to provide the individual names and NI numbers for each furloughed employee, and the total figures you are claiming for salary, employer’s NI and pension.
  • Those of you who have furloughed 100 or more employees will need to upload a file containing each employee’s name, NI number, furlough start and end dates and the amount claimed. HMRC will accept the following file types: .xls .xlsx .csv .ods. You should submit one line per employee for the whole period. Make sure you don’t put any more information in than needed, otherwise you risk delaying your payment. You can find a link to a template that can be used for this, here.
  • Your bank account number and sort code – make sure your bank account will accept BACS payments.
  • Your contact name and phone number (or agent details if they are making the claim for you)
  • It was announced on 12 May that the government will require employers to share information on their wage costs going forward as part of the scheme. It is not yet clear how this information will be collected with further details promised by the end of May.

If you have weekly and monthly paid employees on the same PAYE reference, you will need to take care when setting a claim period because you can only make one claim per period. You will therefore need to adjust some of your figures to match the period you are claiming for. For example, if you are making a claim for your monthly paid staff for the calendar month of April, you will need to align the weekly paid staffs’ figures to the same period. This is likely to involve reducing the claim pro rata for the final week of April.

If your weekly and monthly payrolls are run through different PAYE references, then this will be more straightforward as separate claims can be made for each.

The timing of receiving the grant is 6 working days from making the claim which may not align with the payroll cost so it is worth thinking about the cashflow impact. If you need our help making the claim get in touch here or speak to your usual CP contact.

In the meantime, you should pay your furloughed employees at least 80% of their regular wage (see details above), or £2,500 per month if this is lower. This should be processed through your payroll as usual.

You can choose to top up your employees’ salary beyond this, but you are not able to reclaim anything further under the scheme. If you are topping up an employee’s wages above the 80%, it should be noted that HMRC will only refund you the proportion of the National Insurance that relates to the 80% of the individual’s salary.

Based on the example in HMRC’s step by step guide, a furloughed employee’s wages should be calculated on a daily rate using calendar days in the month, regardless of whether the employee would usually work on that day (for example weekends). You can use HMRC’s online calculator to assist with your calculations.

Claims for periods up to 30 June 2020 must have been made by 31 July 2020.


There has been a lot of industry commentary around the impact of furloughing EMI (Enterprise Management Incentive) option holders.

One of the conditions that must be met to qualify for the beneficial tax treatment of EMI schemes is that employees must commit at least 25 hours a week to the company (or at least 75% of their total working time, if less).

If this condition ceases to be met, there will be a disqualifying event which means the options would need to be exercised within 90 days, otherwise the tax benefits of EMI options and shares will be lost. This will also lead to the options lapsing in the majority of cases.

Due to the above there was concern that furloughing an employee with EMI options could cause such a disqualifying event for them. However, this assessment was open to interpretation and thankfully HMRC have now included additional clauses in the Finance Bill to clarify that a disqualifying event does not occur as a result of an individual taking leave, being furloughed or working reduced hours because of Covid-19.


We recommend planning until the end of October and thinking about which of your people you will need to continue to run your business in the short term and those which can be ‘furloughed’ to secure their jobs and the future of your business.

This should also take into account the fact that from 1 July you will be able to bring back employees part time who had been furloughed by 10 June 2020.

You will need to decide quickly whether you need access to this scheme, and which of your employees will be affected. You will need to notify any employees if you are including them in the scheme and obtain their written agreement to being furloughed. This agreement, along with all other documentation in relation to the furloughing of employees, should then be retained on their HR files for at least five years.

You will also need to consider the employment law position, if you don’t have a specialist employment  lawyer who can help, get in touch  and we may be able to point you in the right direction.


Further details on the scheme can be found here. HMRC have also recently published detailed guidance on how furlough pay interacts with calculating other statutory payments for individuals, such as maternity, paternity and adoption pay. These can be found on the gov.uk website.

The Chancellor published on 22 May 2020 an updated direction in relation to the Covid-19 Job Retention Scheme.  The updated direction includes much greater detail on the legal documentation that must be in place for somebody to be furloughed and what activities they can undertake during this period.

In particular, the new direction specifically allows for a furloughed Director to claim under the Job Retention Scheme for the employees of their company, as well as to make wage and salary payments for the company.  There is also much more clarity on the conditions that need to be met for a claim to be valid where there has been a transfer of employees and consequently a change in the payroll scheme.

The new direction can be found HERE.

A factsheet setting out the proposed changes from 1 July can be found HERE.


Where non-furloughed employees have agreed to a temporary reduction in their pay to support the business, the government has clarified HERE what documentation you should have in place.  It’s crucial to get the timing of your agreement spot on to avoid the employee still being subject to income tax and National Insurance on the waived pay.

Where employees will be receiving reduced pay due to being furloughed, they will need to consider if this makes them eligible to claim any benefits from the government. This could include child benefit, particularly where an employees’ usual salary takes them over the £50,000 threshold but their taxable income for the tax year will now be below this. You could point your employees here for more information on this and other things they may wish to consider if they are being furloughed.

For employers, there are also some things worth considering in relation to your employee benefits. For example, you may provide company cars that are no longer being driven. It’s worth thinking about your policy. Here’s some guidance from HMRC on the benefit in kind implications at gov.uk.

The government is introducing a year-long exemption (16 March 2020 – 5 April 2021), allowing employers to reimburse employees for home office equipment purchased to enable them to work from home without having to pay tax or NIC. To qualify for the exemption, the office equipment must have been purchased for the “sole purpose of enabling the employee to work from home as a result of coronavirus” (so is subject to the proviso that private use is not significant). This could include: computer equipment, office furniture or internet access, for example.

You might also not be aware that you can pay your employees up to £6 a week for the additional household expenses incurred as a result of your employee working from home (£4 a week before 6 April 2020). This is non-taxable and can help cover additional expenses like electricity, heating, broadband without needing a receipt.

It’s worth knowing that temporary changes have been made to the qualifying criteria for Tax-free childcare and 30 hours free childcare during the COVID-19 crisis. These changes may impact your employees including those on furlough as well as other categories including those not able to work or those working less. Further details can be found here.

Reporting employees’ wages to HMRC when you’ve claimed through the CJRS

The reporting requirements under the PAYE Real Time Information system will depend on whether you are using the grant to:

  • Pay wages
  • Reimburse wages already paid
  • You have not paid your employees’ wages yet

Detailed guidance can be found HERE.


We suggest keeping the grant received from HMRC, which is taxable, separate in your accounts and ideally in its own nominal code.  This will allow transparency for any questions or reconciliations should HMRC audit these claims.


We consider the scheme will go a long way in providing financial security for your employees. It means your business can focus on keeping going during these difficult times and hitting the ground running when things pick up again.

If you need help or have queries about the coronavirus job retention scheme, then get in touch with Mark Baxter.


The government will repay certain employers (those with less than 250 employees on 28 February 2020) for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid to employees as a result of COVID-19 who cannot work because they either have coronavirus, are self-isolating or are shielding in line with public health guidance. These employees do not need to have a doctor’s fit note in order for you to claim. We’ve asked HMRC about how the 250 employee limit works for group companies.  HMRC confirmed that the 250 employee limit applies per PAYE scheme rather than per group and if each company in a group uses a different PAYE reference, the number of employees across the group do not need to be aggregated.

The repayment will cover periods of sickness starting on or after 13 March 2020, for up to two weeks. Records including the national insurance numbers of the affected employees, the reason they could not work and the relevant dates of sick leave, should be kept for at least three years following a claim.

The online repayment system went live on 26 May 2020 to enable employers to make their claim – check out all the details here.

If you have any questions, please get in touch with our COVID-19 Task Force here